Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Musings - February 28, 2011

1. Traveling through airports is still an event; between clearing security, deciding what food to buy before boarding a long flight, and being treated like self-loading cargo it just isn't a lot of fun anymore.

2. I still find something exciting about watching the first light of dawn grace the horizon and chase away the night.

3. The Oscars were awarded last night--yawn.  Maybe they should all get real jobs.

4. The Arab world continues to implode and the real question is, whose side should we be on?  Are they going from the frying pan into the fire?

5. Congress. What happens when if government shuts down? Will they continue to get paid? There should be a deal in there somewhere. History says that shutting down the government over a budgetary impasse is a bad idea.

6. It is March Madness!  Let the annual orgy of college basketball begin.

7. Seems I was rushing daylight savings time a bit yesterday. It really begins on March 13th. I really thought Springtime was closer.

8. I didn't know that: On February 28, 1827 the B&O railroad was incorporated and became the first railroad in America to offer scheduled passenger and freight service.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sleepy Sunday with Spring on the Way

Unlike yesterday--the dog let me sleep in a bit today.

So now I'm a bit behind on the day.  Bit that is OK.

Yesterday was one of those days where it was a bit cold--but there was very little wind.  We were able to continue cleaning the yards and moving the remnants of Winter off and back into the woods where the leaves should have stayed anyway.

We took so many loads of leaves off the lawns and from around the pool that I was just amazed at how they had blown in.

But--we are ready for the mowing to begin! Well, the lawn needs to green up first. But if the weather keeps climbing farther away from freezing, I suspect I'll be mowing by the Ides of March!

I know the tractor is ready!

The pool isn't far off. I ordered the chemicals for the season and they will be delivered this week. So April isn't too far off.

In two weeks we revert to daylight savings time! (Corrected, thanks, Dad!)

It is funny, this year, unlike most, I have not been driving to work in the daylight. But not that it matters, let's get the daylight reallocated and start playing outside during the evening.

I need to get through this week first. But sleeping in a bit sure started the week out great.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I Can't Sleep In

I should be asleep in my be right now.  It is shortly after 6AM on a Saturday morning after a trying but snow shortened work week. I love to sleep in on Saturdays.

I was happily asleep a few minutes go, but then Makayla decided she needed to go out.

Usually not a problem. The sun isn't up yet and I put her leash on her and we head outside. It was damp and cool, but not cold. The air was still and there were no birds singing yet. I noted the snow was mostly gone from the storm of Tuesday. Makayla did her business and we headed back inside for her cookie reward.

And the cats also get cookies for just being cats.

The Makalya lets me know the food dish is empty and she needs water.

Now I am awake.

I hit the coffee pot and decide--no more sleep this morning. Time to start the day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Short Week means No Less Work

Although this week was effectively a three-day week, holiday followed by a surprise snow day, there was a full week's amount of work to be accomplished.

Work, it seems gets parsed out on a weekly basis. Just because the work week is shorted does not equate to less work. The same amount of stuff needs to get done, I just have less time to do it.

I can tell how my week is progressing by the newspaper I take along with me every morning. Most days, I get to read the paper over my lunch half-hour as I enjoy food at my desk. A busy day means that I hit the headlines and scan the sports section. Really busy days mean the paper never leaves the plastic sleeve that it is delivered in.

So far this week (all two days) the paper has not left the plastic sleeve. I'm not even reading the headlines, it seems that I am living the headlines. On top of that, I'm staying late to get the critical stuff done. Yesterday for example, I played racquetball at 5:30 am, but still was at my desk my 7:15. I checked out at 5:45 pm. Not too bad for an 8-hour day.

And I really want to get in to work early today so that I don't have to work too late tonight to get the weeks worth of stuff accomplished.

It is just funny how it all works out. 

Is time off, then, really time off or just time reallocated?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time Stands Still

It was about 5:17 pm on Wednesday afternoon. I was on Piney Orchard Boulevard headed home in my truck after E-day.

The day had been a fast moving day--broken up by a doctors appointment and work. I had been busy, but I always look forward to E-day.

I was daydreaming a bit about the evening at home with Chris and the events planned for the next day. I was doing about 50 mph in a 45 mph zone and beginning to get into the drive.

Then it happened. Time stood still for a short amount of time.

A green Mustang convertible with a white top, for some unexplained reason turned in front of me attempting to get onto Old Waugh Chapel Road.

Emergency stop!

Collision imminent!

The anti-lock brakes were shaking under my foot. The green Mustang loomed larger and larger in my windscreen and I began to think about the looming impact and wondering if the car in front of me would at least accelerate a bit.

I aimed for where the car was, but stayed in my lane and chose not to perform some heroic maneuver and potentially roll my truck. The truck held its line--straight as an arrow--so swerve, no hesitation.

I thought about how the airbag would feel exploding into my chest as the seatbelt secured me to the truck.

I heard the squealing of the tires of the Mustang as the driver recognized the impending collision and mashed the accelerator to begin moving ever so slowly from my path.

I wondered if the truck would be repairable.

I thought about the engine being in my lap when it was all over.

And then--it became clear that the vectors were going to miss each other. The Mustang cleared the intersection a hair breath before my truck got to where the car had just been, and I released the brake so the guy in back of me would not rear-end me.

I thought for a moment about chasing down the Mustang driver--and giving them a good tongue lashing. But decided against it.

I hit the accelerator and got back up to road speed, said a prayer of thanks and tried calling my wife.

I know time stands still in such situations. How else could I have done so much and thought of so much in what amounted to the blink of an eye? I was on a bit of an adrenalin high.

But I was unharmed and not involved in a serious accident--and continued on my way home reflecting on the circumstances and reactions of those short seconds.

And the traffic around me continued on unabated and probably unaware of my brush with disaster.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chasing the Elusive Winning Season

Even though it is like the third coldest morning of the winter--Orioles fans have a warm spot in their hearts for the team that has entered Spring Training in Sarasota, Florida.

We believe that this is the year!

The year of what? You might ask.

Well for one, a winning season--the first in 13 seasons.  To post more wins than losses would be a truly great accomplishment for a club that has dramatically underperformed and resides in a division the the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Rays.

We get excited when we read in Peter Schmuck's article:

SARASOTA, Fla. — How’s this for one of the biggest problems facing manager Buck Showalter this spring?
The Baltimore Orioles are hitting the ball too far.

Showalter had to move batting practice from the northeast practice field to the southwest field that mirrors the dimensions of Orioles Park after several unhappy spring training spectators came to the O’s administrative office hoping to be reimbursed for damage to cars parked beyond the left field fence.

We believe there is hope for our team.

But wait, there is more. Being the the American League East Divison, we want more!

We want our downtrodden Orioles to not just have a winning season--but to finish ahead of the over-rated Yankees and their millions of dollars, and ahead of the Red Sox, and the Rays, and the Blue Jays.

We want a playoff team again!

I remember going to playoff games so many years ago here in Baltimore. I find it hard to believe that I have actually lived my adult life in one place long enough to actually have attended playoff games in a city where the home team has 13 straight losing seasons. But I have and this crazy place called Baltimore has become my home.

In a few short weeks, I will be in Sarasota for my first ever trip to Spring Training. I have my tickets and I am more than ready.

I hope I like what I see.

But Springtime is in the air and it is filled with baseballs and visions of winning seasons and playoff games.

Oriole Magic lives.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back for more fun

And here is a pile of snow from this morning's fun. It had to come back for a do over it seems.

I could have done without it.

But the driveway is cleared. The temperature crawled over freezing and we are on the road to Springtime.

But really? We were at 75 degrees on Friday and then we had snow this morning. And not just a little. A significant amount.

Spring is coming. Hold on to that thought.

Winter's Revenge

Yesterday morning as I was watching snow fall on the Today Show hosts, I laughed to myself about how nice it was to be in Maryland and not be part of the oncoming storm.

Yes, everyone ,this morning's mess is my fault.

I thought we were safe. I put away the remainder of the salt and started thinking about Spring.

But as yesterday continued--the weather report got more ominous--and it became apparent that Winter had heard me joke about it being all but over and decided to make a return appearance.


By 9:30 last night the snow was falling--not just a little bit--but in significant amounts.

I had to put the cinder blocks back into the bed of my truck for a bit of added traction. And the snow was falling and laughing at me. I could hear the laughing as the flakes slammed into the ground and on my head at an ever increasing speed.

I have to deal with it at least one more time.

But I am up for the challenge. Again.

Deal with it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Musings - February 21, 2011

1. It is amazing how out of touch legislators in various states are--Wisconsin, for example. Wow--what a way to mismanage a situation, revoking the rights of government employees to participate in unions. Sounds like the early-1900's all over again.

2. The Arab world is aflame with demands for freedom--too bad democracy is so slow to respond to be a viable answer.

3. Geese are wild animals--but they sure get close sometimes.

4. Baseball is back in the news with Spring Training shifting into gear--and the NFL is preparing to self-destruct with a lock out by the owners.

5. Wild variations in weather and temperature--snow melting, green beginning to be seen in the bushes--must be Springtime.

6. We talked about "aha" and "oh-my" moments in church yesterday. Who knew they are different?

7. Brinksmanship has taken on a new form--threatening a government shutdown.  And you think we have problems now? Wait until it totally stops working.

8. BTW--it is definitely Springtime--the Daytona 500 has already been run. I totally missed it.

9. In honor of  President's Day and in recognition of the spreading unrest in the Arab world, I was reminded of this statement made by George Washington: "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Out with the Boys

Last evening was the night the grandparents get to spend uninterrupted time with the grandsons. It is a gift we are giving to their parents in the form of free baby sitting so they can do dinner and/or a movie without the added bite associated with childcare.

And while this is only the second time we've done it (so far this year), it is shaping up to be an adventure filled night which always seems to include making smores in the fireplace.

Last evening, we took the boys out to Centennial Lake to feed the waterfowl. We had hoped for ducks, we got geese as well.

There was some ice on the water in places which made for some comical situations with the geese--slipping and flying on the ice.

The boys had fun and so did grandma and grandpa.

Sadly--it was very cool--so we could not stay long and enjoy the scene.

But that was not really a problem either since we were there as the sun was setting--so it would soon be dark anyway.

The promise of Spring makes us do crazy things, I guess.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blue Skies and High Wind

Ready for the Growing Season
Well it is cooler today than the 70's of yesterday. But the respite was appreciated.

The grasses around the pool are cut and the debris of winter has been removed from the lawn.

The lawn service even paid its initial visit to get the first load of chemicals down in the lawn in preparation for the Springtime growing season.

In a few months, the grasses will be 6 feet tall and the summer sun will be beating down on us as we lounge in the pool.

But yesterday was the day to get it done. It was warm and we actually enjoyed being outside doing yard work--the first of the emerging season.  I had some broken branches to cut out of one of the plum trees and we even had the tractor out with the mower cleaning up leaves and debris--although I am sure the wind will blow a lot more in today.

Memories like yesterday will keep me going strong until the weather changes over for good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Smell of Spring

It hit me as I opened the door to let the dog out early this morning.

The damp, earthy smell that confirmed to me that although it is only February, Springtime was in the air.

It is the smell of wet earth and it hangs in the air, rich and full of promise after the sterile smell of the frozen snow covered lawns.

As I surveyed the wet, brown grass covered lawn which had a smattering of leaves and other assorted treats brought in by the winds of the past few days, I imagined a green carpet of uniformly cut blades of grass which will soon replace the current view. 


I am already getting ads for discounted pool supplies and for pool opening assistance.

Even the birds have ramped up their activity of late.

The grasses around the pool have served their purpose and must be trimmed to prepare for a new season of growing.

There is so much to do.

I imagine it like a prisoner being released--a bright sunny day, full of hope and promise. So much that the senses are overloaded.

And right about noon--I will be free to enjoy the day. Carpe diem.

February Paradox

Yesterday the temperatures were awesome and warm even. Remember, it was the 17th of February. In one month I'll be heading to Florida for Orioles Spring Training--the tickets are on my desk as I type this.

Cat on the First Day of Top Down Driving Feb 17, 2011
Last evening I drove home in Cat with the top down and the wind (cool but not cold) whistling through my ever thinning hair.

I was the envy of so many other drivers on the road. (Maybe they thought I was crazy)

Although I felt a bit weird putting the top down on a convertible in February in Maryland--that is why I bought the car--so I could! I took this image just before I put Cat into the garage for the night.

And that is why the top was down last evening--because I could!

Today is supposed to be even nicer!
The Snow that Won't Quit

I felt as if the freakishly cold snap was finally over. But, I know there are still 30 days until Spring officially begins.

Here's the paradox part--just up the driveway--there is still a huge pile of snow.

If I don't see anymore snow until January 2012, it will be too soon!

I just hope this pile goes away soon.

I am getting itchy to open the pool. And there is still ice in it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Warm days

I was a Nicole's yesterday evening watching Ethan--on what I call "E" day.

As I was leaving, I saw that the entire neighborhood was outside enjoying the mild 58 degree temperatures. The kids were all outside around the neighborhood. Playing. What a concept. Jax and E were on their scooter cars--enjoying the mild temperatures and the sunshine.

I was good to be outside again and not cold.

I even took Makayla for a walk. Something I have been reticent to do with the cold temperatures.

It was awesome to enjoy the outdoors again--even if only for a few minutes with moderating temperatures.

I highly recommend it--getting outside again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day -- The Memory

I am not a romantic person by nature. Anything that I do which remotely resembles a romantic advance or moment comes with a lot of effort.

The other night, Chris gave me a huge compliment--one that I really appreciate, but ast the same time it also scares me! She indicated that our Valentines Day was probably the most romantic thing that I have ever done.

We decided that since she had been away the previous week, to forgo the overly expensive, but nice Valentine's Day dinner at a local restaurant and I would cook her favorite dinner.

Well, as it turned out, I really got into the whole idea of making this a special evening at home and since she was out doing her usual Monday evening time at Nicole and Mike's, I actually had the opportunity to "set" a mood before she got home.

And so, the picture is of the table set and ready as she walked through the door. The salad course on the plates and the wine in the glasses.  We chose a 1999 Parador Red wine, which is a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo that we found during our Napa Valley vacation last year.   It was fabulous.

The table was simple but elegant on Wedgwood china and our best silver. The dinner simple--baked salmon and vegetables with a cheese cake dessert accompanied by a brand port we have had for a few years.

The chef (me) had everything timed to begin upon Chris' arrival at the door. The candles were lit around the house, soft music was playing and once we were ready, the salmon was placed in the already preheated oven.  Coffee was also served as an after dinner drink.

We enjoyed a leisurely salad course as the salmon baked. Catching up on the events of the day and the past week all the while the stress fell from her shoulders and soon, before long, my wife once again emerged finally back at least for a moment, into our lives unencumbered by everything else clamoring for her attention. The salmon was perfectly seasoned with dill and lemon pepper and cooled to perfection. Most importantly, it was served still hot--fresh from the oven. The vegetable medley complimented the fish and the cheesecake was not too sweet, and so it complimented the Port and the rest of the dinner.

We savored the meal, the conversation, and the time together. The evening was perfect.  I'm not sure we will ever again be able to face the noise and bustle of restaurant Valentines Day.

Why did Chris' compliment scare me? I may have raised the bar too high and may never be able to do anything which can even compare to Monday night again, let alone exceed it.  I should have managed expectations better.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Search of Springtime

I have to confess--I had to make a quick trip to the truck at about 10:30 yesterday morning and I almost didn't go back into work.

Yes--I was suddenly besieged by a terminal case of Spring Fever.

I haven't experinced temperatures as pleasant as those of yesterday since early November.

They were awesome and the sky was blue with puffy clouds.  It was cool--but not cold.

I didn't even wear an overcoat ot work this morning the 47 degree temperature was so pleasant.

I know there remains at least one more cold blast from the Arctic--but for yesterday and most of this week I will be searching for the new growth associated with Springtime and enjoying moderate teperatures celebrating the near end of an extremely cold and unpleasant winter.

For those of you up north--I'm sorry, but it is on its was there, too.

Stick with it.  Pretty soon we will all be cursing the need to mow the lawn.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Musings - February 14, 2011

1. Happy Valentines Day--hope you didn't forget.

2. I went shopping the other night with my best girl. She sat patiently in the car while I went into the grocery store. Later, when we went to her favorite store, PetSmart, she was on her best behavior in the store helping me pick out her favorite treats. I even got her a new chew bone--which she approved of before I put it into the cart. It is amazing how things change when we are living on our own.

3. After a short break--family Sunday resumed yesterday. It met every expectation--but even better, I fired the grill up for the first time in 2011 and we had steak for dinner. The promise of 60 degree weather by the end of the week sure have me getting excited.

4. Egypt is celebrating--I hope the end result is better than what the people had before.

5. BTW--it is Baseball season. Spring Training has begun with the arrival of pitchers and catchers. it is time to transition the excitement of the off season dealing into a baseball season of excitement rather than disappointment. Do I have my expectations set to high? Probably, but that is what Spring Training is all about--30 teams all even in the race to win the World Series.

6. In the aftermath of the Super Bowl last week, I ran across this quote from the guy the trophy is named after: If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score? Vince Lombardi

7.  Hey, did you see that Boeing is making a new 747 variant? How can something 40-plus years old be new again? I'd like to find our because I am a fifty-something looking to be new again, too.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Moderating Temperatures

I could not believe the weather forecast for the week ahead when I saw it on TV last evening. It seems the tide has turned on the bitterly cold weather--at least for a bit.

While there still is a lot of snow remaining to melt, it should be gone by this time next week.

The weather is predicted to even provide us a 60 degree day on Friday. A sure sign that Spring is not so far off and that outside activities may once again resume.

Bring on the pool floaties. Well, maybe it is a bit premature for that kind of activity.

But 60 degrees--that is warm enough to lower the top on Cat and cruise the neighborhood--with the heat blasting of course.

I will not be sad to see the snow melt. There is a lot of yard work already piling up to restore the lawns and yard to their pre-winter condition. The season has not been kind. We have at least one tree which will be taking up residence at the recycling center very soon as the snow and ice broke its back, so to  speak.

But the thought of 60 degrees is almost as exciting as actually achieving the day. I may have to play hookie from work during the afternoon to enjoy the day to its fullest. I think the medical condition is termed, spring fever.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eyes Closed Tight and Full Speed Ahead

The wreck that happened was obvious to everyone.

Full speed ahead and totally oblivious to the consequences. Not seeing the warning signs.

It can be almost as bad as the head-in-the-sand approach to life.
I know people who seem to attack life in a hair-of-fire approach and seem to get slapped down at every turn.

They don't pause to consider dodging the oncoming mess until they are mired deeply in it.

What are the warning signs of an impending crisis? It could be financial when the outlays at the end of the month exceed income and those extra expenses start making their way to the credit cards. It could be health related--when those aches and pains that used to be present when we roll out of bed now stay with us all day. Or the cough that has hung around for months. Or in school when the homework becomes and afterthought and the grades begin a gradual slide down the rating scale.

The signs are there. Open your eyes.  Take corrective action before life collides with you like and oncoming train.

The light at the end of the tunnel may be the oncoming train of life and with a bit of recognition, the siding may be the best place to go..

Friday, February 11, 2011

Walking Backward

So, kind of as a corollary to yesterday's post, I spent some time thinking about some of the people I know who seem to be walking backward through life.

Their entire focus is on what happened in the past--without ever really turning around to see what is in front of them.

These are some of the saddest people I know.


Because their focus on the past is usually recounting and reliving something bad that happened to them that they cannot get over. Some transgression caused by someone they loved, or some failure of their own.

They become consumed with their anguish and cannot turn around to see that tomorrow is where the possibilities are and that yesterday is hostory--and try as we might, we cannot rewrite what has happened. We can, however, change the future!

I've been to that place, I admit. And I can pity party with the best of them.  Ask Chris.

But it is so much better to turn around and face forward to deal with things you can affect rather than lamenting history.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Looking Forward

Sometimes I sit around looking backwards at the cool stuff that has happened. It is nice to have memories and pictures and trinkets of things I've done or places I've been.

But remembering the good times doesn't make them return.

I took a survey the other day--questions about what I like and what I like to do--those kinds of things and one question that I really enjoyed was: "What is your favorite day of the year?"

I could have answered in many different ways--Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Independence Day, the First Day of Summer and so on.

But I wrote: the first day of vacation. I love the start of the adventure. The beginning of something really different. The feeling that there is a lot ahead that I am about to do.

I want to look forward in expectation of something really cool and special. To an event unbounded by what I have done in the past. A change.

Of course the survey never asked what is the saddest day of the year? It is of course the day I go back to work after vacation. I spend all day thinking about what happened in the past and I get no enjoyment from today or what is going to happen in the future.

I like looking forward in anticipation.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Time, Toast, and Toes

It is funny--when I get to spend a week bacheloring it with my dog around the house; time seems to fly right by. I wish I could just sit and relax--but there seems to be laundry to do, cats to feed and litter boxes to freshen.

I noticed it yesterday morning as I was eating my toast. Makayla was there ,as usual, waiting for that last corner from each piece that I faithfully give her every day. I was writing a blog entry about my family and how we all rock. And then, I  realized that counters needed cleaning, dishes needed washing, and OMG, the laundry that I started three days ago was still in the dryer--fortunately it was mostly undergarments and towels. Chris will never notice the other items. Maybe. Not.

And as I began to get later for work--the dog food was low, her water was out, and Makalya needed her second walk of the morning. Sadly, she decided not to "give it up" very easily and so we were outside for what seemed like forever and the clock was ticking in what seemed like double time until she finally found the exactly perfect spot for her business.  Which I speedily scooped up and deposited in the trash.

Normally, I play racquetball on Tuesday mornings--but not this week, thankfully. It gives me a bit more time.

And then I thought about my toes--yes--toes. I normally love going barefoot around the house, but this winter we have been keeping the house so cold that the thought of going barefoot begins involuntary shivers throughout my body.

How I would love to have my toes dug into hot sand on a beach somewhere with the hot sun beating down on my bare lotion-covered back and the gentle sea breeze washing over me with the sweet, clean, smells of the ocean.

Daydreaming--not allowed!

Time to rush off to the office and forget about time, toast, and toes and get back to the grind of life and living in the medium-fast lane.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

That's How We Roll: Family Dynamics

My family is very resilient.  I often forget this, but this past weekend I was reminded how quickly we can mobilize to respond to a crisis.

The scenario: Chris is already "deployed" to Buffalo, NY (yes, I know it is the middle of the winter and she is reporting the ever increasing snow fall being dumped on her). She is assisting family embroiled in a long-term health battle by providing assistance and comic relief. And then, Sunday--with no warning, we developed another crisis right here in Maryland. Somehow, I wound up in the role of first responder--but by the end of the day, when the situation had calmed, everyone had played a part in helping the situation. The immediate crisis has passed, but the long-term implications are still being explored.

And so--to my family.

Independent--yet connected.

Ready to help out at a moments notice--but also willing to allow everyone to have space.

Most important--caring.

And that is how we roll.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Musings - February 7, 2011

1. The Super Bowl certainly was an exciting game. Congrats to the Packers and the Steelers for providing a hard fought, and generally well played game. Sadly, it may also be the last NFL Football game unless the looming work stoppage and lock-out can be averted.

2. Spring looms even closer. Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in less than two weeks!

3. Families are meant to be resilient. We have been doing the diving and conquering thing for a couple of days now with a stream of continuing crises.

4. When I woke up last Thursday, I had no idea that Chris would be in Buffalo by the end of the day--it is amazing how life can turn so quickly sometimes.

5. The weather forecasting rodent may have been correct--it sure has warmed up since Phil predicted an early spring.

6. The snow has almost melted from my yard in many places. I can see dead grass! Great. Gas up the mower, Spring is coming.

7.  It was so warm yesterday, I considered putting the top down on the convertible--then I checked the thermometer and found it was only 47 degrees. A bit cold for top-down driving. It just seemed nice by comparison.

8. Life is a journey--but sometimes I forget where the final destination is actually located. As I was singing yesterday in church, the last line of the bridge in Hillsong United's Hosanna really spoke to me, the line goes as follows:  
Everything I am for your kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity.

9. There are still honorable and honest people in the world. I met a few yesterday during a family crisis. Look for the good in people and you will find it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

The day arrived with blue skies and a bright sun.

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday was one of the dreariest and coldest damp rainy days that I have suffered through in a long time. Althought the temperature is nearly the same as yesterday, it seems 10 degrees warmer, just because the sun is shining.

I did get the chance to play with a new underwater movie camera that Chris bought as my Valentine's Day present.

And I made my first movie--which I present here--it isn't much--but it is of one of my favorite subjects.

I did a few little projects around the house--which frankly are not going as well nor as easy as I thought they would.  Ugh!

But I'm writing this after talking with Chris who is in Buffalo, NY assisting with a family emergency and the sun is beaming through the window warming me and lifting my spirits. I've just completed making her return trip reservations for next Saturday--hoping on a good day.

We will see.

But the sun is shining.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Signs of Spring

Wednesday was an interesting day.

During the morning I was pleased that the weather forecasting rodent residing in Pennsylvania did not see his shadow--which of course suggests and early spring.

That would be especially nice since we have been having some of the worst winter weather imaginable all across the country, and it is downright cold here in Maryland.

Signs of Spring
So, during the afternoon as I was getting Ethan home from school and walking Florence, Nicole's dog, I noticed something that really helped to confirm Punxsutawney Phils forecast: this small daffodil or hyacinth pushing up from under the melted snow making itself available for the spring growing season.

And so there it was--as if almost saying: "Don't lose hope, there is life waiting to be reborn hiding here under the snow and frozen ground."

And it made me smile.


And I turned my thoughts to warmer days, flowers, and gentle breezes; despite the abundance of snow all around and the icy patches on the roads.  Maybe I can put the top down on the convertible soon.

Friday, February 4, 2011

There has to Be Something More

 At my Men's Group on Monday evening, we were exploring the fundamentals of life and faith.

We were treated to a 60 Minutes interview between Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback and Steve Croft. The interview was conducted during 2005 just after Tom Brady's third Super Bowl win when he was still on top of the world.

Tom Brady 2011 NFL Offensive Player of the Year

During the interview Steve asked Tom how it felt being on to p of the world after winning  three super bowls--or something to that  effect. Imagine this--Tom Brady said he felt there must be something more--something bigger.

Wow--I was awed.

There he was--on top of the sports world and he recognized, without acknowledging it, that what we do and what we achieve on our own always leaves us wanting more--we are empty.

Steve asked Tom which Super Bowl ring felt the best. Tom thought for a minute and responded--the next one. I wonder if he felt the same way after being named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year for the 2010-2011 Season?

Tom--you may never get a "next" one.  You need to find happiness and contentment where you are right now. And since you've acknowledged that there is something missing, a lack of fulfillment--you need to change.

We all need to change.

No matter what we do on our own, or what we gain from the world it seems we will always be left wanting something more and asking, "is this all there is?"

No Tom--this isn't all there is thankfully!  There is a whole lot more out there and you can be part of it. 

Just ask!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sled Dogs Murdered in British Columbia

WARNING: The referenced articles contain graphic word images which will make you sick.

I would not have believed it until I read it the other day.

Remember the Olympics in Canada last year--well one of the results of that beautiful event has recently come to light in the senseless slaughter of 100 sled dogs.

In an article titled: 100 Sled Dogs Killed in British Columbia Due to Slump in Tourism, the Huffington Post reported on February 1, 2011 the senseless slaughter of about one-third of a 300 sled dog pack due to tourism downturns. Or stated another way--the dogs were no longer profitable. And the title really says it all. Another article on the subject indicates the slaughter occurred in Whistler, B.C.

I am sickened, saddened, and horrified.

Yeah, it surely can happen anywhere.  But really, dogs? I remember the Michael Vick saga of a couple years ago and how horrified we all were about the senseless handling and murder of his dogs. This is far worse--and when you read the linked article--you will know that unlike euthanasia, the dogs in question did suffer.

The last three sentences of the article really stopped me--and I present them for your own food for thought:

The murder of these 100 dogs is not unique, and animal slaughter is often performed in the name of human interests.
What do you think? Is it okay to use and then dispose of animals for human sport or consumption?

Where are we heading? We have lost, as a people and a society, our moral compass.

I have always held Canadians in such high regard for the moral high road they seem to take.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Phil the Rodent Predicts

And this just in from Punxsutawney:

Phil surveyed his surroundings and found no shadow, so an early spring it will be!

We will all be partying tonight!!!!

Day of the Rodent

It is Groundhog Day.

Can Rodents Really Forecast the Weather?
A day stuck in the middle of Winter when hope springs eternal that the large rodent living in Pennsylvania will provide a weather forecast suggesting an early Spring.

Sadly--it almost never happens.

More of the ice and snow will be forecast.

How do I find a forecast with temperatures in the 80's and light breezes?

Oh yeah--it is supposed to be sunny and 78 degrees today in Key West!

BTW, someone called groundhogs: nature's speedbumps.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chocolate Pudding on the Chair

"Pop-pop, help," came the words over the din in the house on Sunday as the family gathered for a celebration.

Jax urgently was calling out to be heard from the other room, and so in I went to see him standing there with a half-eaten chocolate pudding container in his hand pointing ashamedly at the glob of pudding in the chair where in in mere moments his mother would be sitting .

I smiled and reassured him that it was not a problem.

And in reflecting on the moment, I realized, my kids had it really bad when I was trying to be a Dad.

I was uptight and every transgression deserved an equal and opposite reaction. I remember my favorite saying: "Accidents kill!" Which I frequently spoke when accidents happened.

Jeremy has since reminded me that breaking a glass "accidentally" in the house was tantamount to a death sentence. And he has also reminded me of the huge pile of dirt I had delivered for the gardens one summer and that I wouldn't let him enjoy with his trucks as I was transferring it load by wheel barrow load to the garden.

I had no sense of humor.  I should have stopped and played in the dirt with him.

Being a grandfather has mellowed me a bit--I don't seem to get to worried about things that can be cleaned, fixed, or thrown away.

Wow, I wish I had been more of a grandfather when I was being a Dad.
My Zimbio
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